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Army soldier accused of avoiding flag salute, posting image on social media

Officials at Fort Carson in Colorado said Wednesday they are investigating reports that a soldier posted a photo on Instagram of herself deliberately avoiding saluting the flag, touching off a storm of criticism from a group representing families who lost loved ones.

Base officials issued a statement Wednesday saying they are aware of a social media post allegedly made by Pfc. Tariqka Sheffey indicating she stayed in her car to avoid a flag ceremony and they are looking into the situation.

Comments posted with the photo showing a female soldier in uniform relaxing in a car said "This is me laying back in my car hiding so I don't have to salute the (5 p.m. flag ceremony)." Her comments also told people to keep any angry responses to themselves. The story was first reported by the Army Times.

The initial post was later taken down.

According to the Department of Defense policies on social media posted on the web, soldiers are required to refrain from posting any comments or visual images that could hurt the military and ask permission before sending out any sensitive information.

Fort Carson officials said Wednesday they will continue to educate soldiers on standards and discipline and appropriate professional conduct on social media. A news conference was scheduled to discuss the issues Wednesday.

Ami Neiberger-Miller, spokeswoman for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, which has helped 44,000 people who have lost loved ones since 1994, said Wednesday thousands of people have lost their lives fighting for the American flag.

"I think any patriotic person would find this offensive," she said.

Neiberger-Miller said this is the second serious incident in a week. Last week, two Wisconsin National Guard members were suspended in an investigation stemming from a photograph showing soldiers clowning around by an empty flag-draped casket at a guard training facility.

The photograph shows soldiers mugging for the camera around the empty casket. It shows 14 men and women posing, some lightheartedly. Two pairs of men hug playfully, another man has his back turned and is pointing off in the distance, and a kneeling woman flashes a peace sign.

The caption reads, "We put the FUN in funeral -- your fearless honor guard from various states."

Fort Carson spokeswoman Dani Johnson said Sheffey wasn't available for comment on Wednesday and attempts to reach the Wisconsin soldiers have been unsuccessful.

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